Indian police on Sunday night arrested S, an Israeli citizen and resident of Jerusalem, with 2.5 kg of Indian cannabis (charas), Channel 12 News reported Monday.
According to India’s 1988 Prevention of Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, possession of a commercial quantity of the substance in question is punishable by rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 10 years but which may extend to 20 years and shall also be liable to a fine which shall not be less than ₹1 lakh ($1,406) but which may extend to ₹2 lakh ($2,813).
S, 42, has been traveling over the last few weeks in India. On Sunday night, he was on a bus that was going from Manali, a high-altitude Himalayan resort town in northern India, to Varanasi, also in northern India. The bus was stopped at a police checkpoint and officers boarded it and conducted a search that resulted in discovering the bag containing the large amount of illicit drugs.
Charas (the term is in Hindustani) is the name given to a hashish form of cannabis which is handmade in the Indian subcontinent. It is made from the resin of the cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica) which grows wild throughout northern India along the stretch of the Himalayas and is an important local cash crop. The difference between charas and hashish is that hashish is made from a dead cannabis plant and charas is made from a live one.
It is presumed that the drug merchant who sold S the stash also told police about it and they were on the lookout for the hapless Sabra.
In the past year, 12 Israelis have been arrested in India for possession of Indian hashish – the same substance that was found in the luggage of celebrity charas user Naama Issachar in Moscow airport last year.
Some of the Israelis in question were released on bail and are not allowed to leave India until the legal proceedings against them are completed. The rest are in detention.
India’s Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), the chief law enforcement and intelligence agency responsible for fighting drug trafficking in India, has begun to combat the phenomenon of use and trade of hashish among Israeli travelers in the mysterious subcontinent. This includes raids on Israeli guesthouses and surprise checkpoints as they make their way south from northern India.